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How to boost physician morale

Why is physician morale at an all-time low? It’s no mystery--they are living under a massive

bureaucratic burden. In fact, most of them spend 50% of their time just on paperwork.

When doctors have little time to talk with patients, or even to coordinate treatments, the result is fragmented care. And the heart of that problem is the payment system.

It is well-documented that the payment system status quo is not working well. Fee-for-service

drives most physician compensation, even though it is ineffective at best, oftentimes dysfunctional, and incredibly costly. While we’ve heard that value-based compensation is the alternative to fee-for-service, it’s yet to be meaningfully adopted after 30 years, begging the question of whether it really is the alternative.

The current system is so complicated, we are spending over $140 billion annually to calculate

payments. I may not be an economist, but something seems deeply wrong here.

Perhaps it is time to pursue a new alternative. Imagine: a payment system that is simple,

affordable, and easy to administer. We all can dream, can’t we?

One straightforward solution would be for insurers to pay physicians a reasonable salary, plus

reasonable cost for practice expenses. I recommend piloting this new payment model only for Primary Care physicians because they consume only five percent of health expenditures. The risk exposure for trying this alternative is modest and benefits would be substantial.

By eliminating coding from their lives, physician morale would improve significantly. And

there would not only be less bureaucracy, but also more opportunities for better care.

Physicians would even have time to talk with their patients and understand their needs.

My book, The Journey’s End, offers a more detailed explanation of this approach. Consider it a morale booster!

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